The Opener: Silver Sluggers, Harper, Managers

As the offseason continues to kick into gear, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day today:

1. Silver Sluggers to be announced:

The Silver Slugger award winners for the 2023 season are set to be announced this evening. Rangers first baseman Nathaniel Lowe, Guardians third baseman Jose Ramirez, Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge, Mariners outfielder Julio Rodriguez, and Astros DH Yordan Alvarez will all have the opportunity to win the award in back-to-back seasons after winning the award in 2022 and being finalists this season. In the National League, Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado, Phillies shortstop Trea Turner, Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts, Phillies outfielder Kyle Schwarber, Padres outfielder Juan Soto, and Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto will each have the chance to repeat as winners. The awards will be announced at 5pm CT this evening on MLB Network.

2. How will Harper’s position change impact the Phillies?

Phillies superstar Bryce Harper is set to take over first base for the club on a regular basis, per comments from president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski yesterday, with Schwarber set to continue in his second-half role as the club’s everyday DH in 2024. The confirmation regarding how the Phillies will fill out their lineup card next year raises questions about how the club will look to supplement the lineup headed into next season. Not only does the decision seemingly close the door on a reunion with longtime first baseman Rhys Hoskins, but it leaves both Brandon Marsh and Johan Rojas likely to play on an everyday basis next year barring an addition to the club’s outfield mix. Should the Phillies look to add a bat to the outfield corners, the class is headlined by Teoscar Hernandez, with the likes of Tommy Pham, Eddie Rosario, and Adam Duvall among the other options available.

3. Which managerial seat will be filled next?

The Angels filled their managerial vacancy yesterday by hiring Ron Washington to replace Phil Nevin in the dugout. It’ll be the first time Washington, 71, has managed since departing Texas back in 2014. With the Angels now having joined the Giants, Mets, Guardians, and Cubs in hiring new managers this offseason, three vacancies remain around baseball in Houston, San Diego, and Milwaukee.

All three remaining vacancies are fairly recent; Dusty Baker retired only after the Astros lost Game 7 of the ALCS last month, while the Padres and Brewers are replacing managers Bob Melvin and Craig Counsell who were hired away by their division rival Giants and Cubs, respectively. The Padres appear to have made the most progress in their search, with internal candidates Ryan Flaherty and Mike Shildt widely seen as favorites for the role. That being said, the club is reportedly pondering a run at recently-dismissed Cubs manager David Ross for the role. If the Padres delay their decision to meet with and consider Ross, could the Astros or Brewers wind up the next team off the board?

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